Though Floridians don’t need to run their furnaces as often as people in other parts of the country, there will inevitably come a day (or night) when you need to use your furnace to stay warm. If you notice any of the following three furnace odors, you should take immediate action to ensure your safety.
If you’ve ever smelled hot oil, burning rubber, or melting plastic, then you know these are some unpleasant odors. If you smell any of these while you’re running your furnace to stay warm, it could signify an emergency situation. These furnace odors indicate something is overheating, and this could cause a fire or even explosion if left unchecked. If you think you smell something burning, take the following steps:
- Turn off the furnace and unplug it, pull the fuse, or flip the breaker switch to ensure no power is getting to it.
- Check the furnace carefully to make sure there is no fire.
- Call your local HVAC company for an inspection.
- Do not use your furnace again until it has been inspected and/or repaired.
Dusty Furnace Odors
If you haven’t used your furnace in a while, the smell of burnt dust isn’t all that unusual. If you smell it, though, you should monitor the situation carefully to make sure there’s nothing dangerous happening. Most of the time, these furnace odors will dissipate over the course of 30 to 60 minutes once the dust that has accumulated inside the system has all been burnt off. However, if the odor continues, and especially if it gets worse, then you may have a more serious problem. If you smell dust, do the following:
- Wait about an hour to see if the problem resolves itself.
- Change the air filter; a clogged filter may be the cause of the odor in the first place.
- Turn off your furnace, pull the fuse or flip the breaker, and call your HVAC company for help should the odor persist longer than an hour or get worse.
The smell of rotten eggs is never pleasant, and it’s pretty simple to identify. The sulfuric odor can range from very faint to so strong it makes your eyes burn, and this is the most dangerous odor of them all. Natural gas doesn’t have an odor at all; gas providers put the smell in the gas so that homeowners can detect potential leaks. These furnace odors are reminiscent of rotten eggs, so if you smell it, this is an emergency situation. Natural gas buildup in your home can cause a devastating fire or explosion, so you need to take immediate action.
- Leave your home immediately. Do not use any electronics in your house, including your phone.
- Call your utility company, and if it is after business hours, you may also need to call your local fire department for help.
While some odors are normal, especially the smell of burning dust when you use your furnace for the first time in a while, others are not. Pay close attention to the smells coming from your furnace, and be sure to take the appropriate action.